Animal Rights

USDA Reports Dairy Farmers Are Sending Younger Cows to Slaughter

Inside factory farms that treat animals like machines, dairy cows live only about four years.

Photo Credit: Mercy for Animals

According to Wisconsin Public Radio, the USDA reports that the number of cows sent to slaughter in the United States was slightly higher in 2017.

In its ongoing quest to produce the ultimate milk machine, the dairy industry genetically manipulates cows for greater and greater milk output.

Over generations, this selective breeding along with techniques for pumping out the most possible calves means "replacement" heifers are both easier to come by and more profitable. For this reason, farmers are swapping cows at an even younger age. 

This move emphasizes the industry’s view of these animals as mere commodities.

Forced to live in filthy, overcrowded sheds or lots, cows at dairy farms are repeatedly impregnated to continually produce milk. (Yes, like all mammals, cows produce milk for their babies.) Once a mother cow gives birth, her calf is stolen from her so farmers can sell the mother’s milk.

If the calf is male, he is sent to a veal farm where he will be tethered inside a crate so small he can barely move and slaughtered in weeks. If the calf is female, she is kept and raised for dairy.

The cycle of impregnation and birth takes a physical and emotional toll. A cow’s natural lifespan is up to 25 years, but because of neglect and constant breeding, cows at dairy farms live only about four years. Once considered “spent,” they are sent to slaughter, typically becoming ground beef.

Horrific, right? Just watch this undercover video from a Mercy For Animals investigation:

Consumers have the power to end this needless suffering by withdrawing support from the cruel factory farming industry and switching to a compassionate vegan diet. 


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Joe Loria is the communications and content manager at Mercy For Animals.